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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 12:47 GMT
US marine held over Japan rape
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A US marine has been arrested in Okinawa, Japan, on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl.

Sgt Tyrone Luther Hadnott, from Camp Courtney base, is alleged to have raped the local girl in a parked car.

The 38-year-old denies the accusation but has admitted to forcibly kissing the girl. He has not been charged.

About 20,000 US troops are based on the southern Japanese island, and relations are tense after previous prosecutions for crimes committed against locals.

A Japanese official said Sgt Hadnott met the girl on Sunday and offered to drive her home.

Instead he is reported to have taken her to his house, but when she started to cry he said he would take her home, which is when the alleged rape took place.

Okinawa's governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, said he felt "great anger" about the situation.

"This is a serious crime that contravenes a woman's rights and should not be forgiven," he told reporters.

Local tensions

File photograph of Okinawa residents protesting against a US base
Previous crimes by US troops have led to local protests.

Tokyo has asked the US military to tighten discipline among its personnel and take steps to prevent such incidents from taking place.

Lt Gen Bruce Wright, commander of the US forces in Japan, said US officials were aware of the "serious allegations" and were monitoring the situation in cooperation with the Japanese authorities.

He said if the allegations were true, "our hearts are with the victim and family".

Allegations of crimes by US troops against Japanese locals cause particular unease after a 1995 case in which three servicemen were jailed for the rape of a Japanese schoolgirl.

In 2006, a US civilian military employee was jailed for nine years for the rape of two women.

Both cases led to angry protests from the local community.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura warned that the latest allegation was "definitely not good for the US-Japan alliance".

The US is currently engaged in the most significant reorganisation of its Japan-based troops in decades.

Officials hope to move the main base to a less densely-populated area of Okinawa as a precursor to relocating troops to the US territory of Guam by 2014.

SEE ALSO
Okinawans reject anti-US option
19 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
US employee jailed for Japan rape
24 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
US to cut Okinawa troop numbers
29 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
US and Japan make troop cost deal
24 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific
US serviceman arrested on Okinawa
04 Jul 05 |  Asia-Pacific



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